There were several reasons I was compelled to stop and take a look around Macon when driving between Savannah and Atlanta last month.
1. It is the location of the Hay House, an antebellum, neo-renaissance pile considered by some the most expensive home ever constructed in the state of Georgia (when you do that dollar adjusted for inflation thing).
2. Aunt Pittypat (along with Uncle Peter and half the civilian population of Atlanta) refugeed there in advance of Sherman’s Army in Gone With the Wind.
3. The Powerball Jackpot was over $ that week, and it always seems that winning tickets for ridiculously large sums are purchased at random convenience stores in places like Macon Georgia, when not by a group of co-workers.
Although reason number one got us to pull of the Interstate, it was reason number onethat caused us to explore the historic residential area of the city known as College Hill.
At first glance Downtown Macon reminded me a lot of places like Albany and Troy. city centers full of architectural interest and devoid of visible signs of life. Having seen enough zombie apocalypse movies, we were wise enough to stay in our car and not get out to explore the downtown by foot.
The Hay House was very easy to find, and did not disappoint (even the fact that it was already closed for tours that day meant we didn’t have to worry about making it Atlanta in time for dinner). The grand sweep of the marble steps, imposing symmetry and soaring cupola on the front façade certainly made an impact. I found the side and back facades even interesting, with a wealth of additional Italiante and Victorian features including an elegant oriela classic campanile and such gratuitous amounts of stained glass and balustrades, that I would swear it was inspiration for Scarlett’s post-war mansion had I not known she’d been stuck in Atlanta birthin’ Melanie’s baby and missed the opportunity to refugee there.An added bonus for anyone who has endured this long winter was seeing a camellia in full bloom.
A string of elegant homes lined the street uphill from the Hay House, built in a variety of late nineteenth and early twentieth century styles. Macon’s central location, prosperity derived from different sources throughout its history, and escape from destruction during the Civil War rewards the historic house buff with stellar examples of different architectural styles. In the area I explored they ranged from robust second empire brick to simple frame Italianate to numerous variations of the queen Anne StyleTo early 20th Century Revival styles.Being the south, the most popular feature found on many homes, was of course columns. Some were chaste and practical, supporting porches and porte cocheres for modest federal and greek revival homes. Others grandly held up classic southern planation style verandas. At the far end of the spectrum, massive porticos embellished steroid-enhanced beaux arts mansions. Though our visit was brief, the homes observed were many. My favorite was this interesting example of late greek revival.Aside from it’s architectural interest, I can easily imagine it housing Aunt Pittypat and Uncle Peter the war, who I am sure were reluctant to leave its creature comforts when the war was over, however anxious they were to return home.